About Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

Pilgrim, writer, speaker, retreat director, social media minister, church secretary - it's hard to believe I was once a corporate executive, but I was. Married to an incredible man, have a spectacular stepdaughter, dog and cat.

Human

noillegalsIf we truly believe that we are made and fashioned in God’s image, how can anyone be illegal? I’m relying on the moral authority of Elie Wiesel, z”l right now. We are human. Let us stand in solidarity. (I’m having an issue with the video embedding. If you go to the link, you will find a video of Elie Wiesel, made by the New York Times as part of his obituary.)

https://static01.nyt.com/video/players/offsite/index.html?videoId=100000004508169

I was a stranger…

5f18a2168c3daec4004ab176b2cd4132I’m grateful to see and hear this powerful Catholic Christian message from Fr. James Martin, SJ. Fr. Jim is a prolific author, speaker, and so much more. He is also an editor at America Magazine. This video was uploaded to America’s Facebook page today.

The message is very simple… If we can’t welcome the stranger, we can’t welcome Christ. Like I asked earlier today in my post about Saint Paul, what would any of us do when confronted with God? What will we do when confronted with the stranger? The answer to both is the same.

Feeling challenged by this? If we don’t feel challenged by God on a regular basis, we are doing something very wrong.

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Would you?

conversion-of-st-paul_181Today is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. We remember the monumental event of Saul of Tarsus, who was speeding to Damascus to hunt down some followers of the Way. The Way was what early Christians were called; at that time they were still by and large Jews who believed that Jesus was the messiah. This was a great affront to many in Jerusalem because it went against what their religion understood.

As I prayed with the Scriptures, I got thinking about what would I do if Jesus showed up in a flash of light asking why I was persecuting him.  It is a real trap to think that we are busy with God’s work with in the way we perceive that God wishes us to do it.

As I wonder what I would actually do if Jesus showed up with this question, I ask you the same. If Jesus claimed you were persecuting him, what would you do? Would you ignore him? Challenge him? Would you even be aware, flash of light or not, that he was Christ? Don’t worry, as I ask you these questions, I ask myself the same thing. Would you? Would you listen? Would you change? Would you follow?

Many of us think we are doing God’s work, and God willing, let’s hope that we are. But if God asked you to let go of how you saw that work and to do it God’s way, would you be able to follow? It’s a good question, because I am pretty sure that God shows up every day asking this to us, just minus the light and the blindness. Our road to Damascus is our daily way of being. Jesus wants us to all change. I’d like to think I would do so, but I’m not so sure. Would you?

January 20, 2017

capture

What a Google search for January 20, 2017 revealed. Not exactly edifying.

The text below is something that I posted to Facebook earlier, with minor edits. What is interesting to me is that when I went to Google images for the words January 20, 2017 this screenshot above shows what I found.Make of that what you will – especially for those who may wish that there were no protests. My protest? I wish peace to all and good for our nation, that is my wish, period. Now, may we all do something to get there.

On my mind:
*Protest is a valid form of democracy, I would add that peaceful protest and non-violent resistance have a long history that we see used by many from Jesus to Gandhi to MLK to Merton and many others whose names are unknown to us.

*Please do not imply or state or ask those who wish to protest peacefully to not do so out of respect. Again, protesting is guaranteed to us by our Constitution.

*Please remember that in pretty much every chapter of history, when we see peaceful protest curtailed or denied, it is usually a sign of silencing an opposition. There are many history books to reference, and moments in time.

*If you are worried about a lack of respect for the office of the president, I can relate. That said, were you as concerned about a lack of respect for that office when numerous people, our president-elect among them, continued to insisted (many still insist) that Obama was a Kenyan born Muslim? Or when that woman in West Virginia compared Michelle Obama to an animal in fine footwear?

*Were you among those who were disgusted and repelled by what happened during the Clinton years in the 90’s regarding sexual relationships? Were or are you as disgusted or repelled by the attitude of the incoming president regarding women and sexuality?

*Are you grateful because you feel a clear-speaking voice is going to tell it like it is? If so, have you read a comprehensive history of said voice’s Twitter feed?

*Do you think it is time for African Americans, Muslims, undocumented immigrants, LGBTQ people, women in general – well, the outspoken ones anyway, plus any other “special interest group” to all take their proper place, and essentially shut up?

I’m not judging your answers, I am simply asking the questions as someone who was at times, (and I regret this) publicly disdainful of the 43rd president. Allow me to say, this does not mean I regret protests, but it does mean that I regret some of the forms I used at that time.

So yes – we can all grow, change, and evolve. Can we do that together for some greater sense of the common good for all? Or is it about what it best for me-and-mine or us, meaning our own group or tribe, or what our version of what might be best for such an enormous nation? Such a big world? And for those of us who profess faith – for all of God’s creation?

Anyway, these are thoughts on my mind today. I am going to try to stay away from social media. Remember that I am more interested in peaceful protest versus name calling and demeaning. Keep those things if you comment..Those comments will likely not be approved until at least tomorrow. Now go be part of the change you wish to see in the world.

Ending. Beginning.

79e1dcd771692a79c9919a6cc035829eWell, tomorrow is Friday, January 20, 2017 and we all know what that means… The past eight years have been far from perfect. In fact if I could sit down with President Barack Obama, there are many frustrations that I would share with him. Having said that, I would say that overall, I mourn the end of his days in the Oval Office.

After the prior eight years, he seemed a dream in many ways. An African-American, young, hopeful, inspired to do grassroots change, socially progressive, and so much more, he inspired so many of us. Yet, the reality of governing versus campaigning set in, and some of the dreams evaporated. Add to that, many made him a hero, and nothing good comes of that. The hero-making, idolizing is what turned me off early on during the campaigning, so I was very late to hop on the Obama for President train.

For good or ill, Continue reading

Ultimate measure

the-ultimate-measure-of-a-man-is-not-where-he-stands-in-moments-of-comfort-and-convenience-but-where-he-stands-at-times-of-challenge-and-controversy

This quote from Martin Luther King, whom we celebrate on Monday, has been on my mind all week. In fact I used it the other day in a post. Today, as we head towards that particular celebration of a civil rights hero, a firestorm erupted on social media.

Apparently Rep. John Lewis of Georgia had an interview with NBC on Friday and he noted that he did not see Trump as a legitimate president. You can see a portion of the interview at this link. Whether or not you agree with John Lewis, he is a man who has given his life over to the betterment of our nation. An early and active leader in the Civil Rights, one of the “Big Six” in the movement during the 60’s. At the head of this group stood none other than Dr. King. Roll Call said of Lewis, “John Lewis…is a genuine American hero and moral leader who commands widespread respect in the chamber.” Ultimately, Lewis’ leadership is not some dotted line or winding road attached to the legacy of Martin Luther King, it bears a direct connection. Connected to this is the legacy of the non-violent protest.

All of this, which you likely know a good deal of already, points to what went down on social media today… In response to Lewis’ interview, the president-elect saw no other path forward than to blast him. Hard. In fact, here it is, 7:45pm on Saturday night and as recently as 20 minutes ago, the president-elect was still tweeting about Lewis.

c2hhls9ucaaqtu2-jpg_largeThis got me to thinking about the King quote in relationship to the two men. What is their measure? John Lewis was a leader of the nonviolent resistance movement in the 60’s, (pay attention people, that is the movement that we all need to focus on!) who has been attacked by dogs and men, and who did not react with violence. Donald Trump who was busy avoiding the draft in the 60’s responds to the slightest criticism with a barrage of angry tweets.

What is the measure of  each man?

Now remember, this is a blog about the intersection of faith and life. So let’s talk faith… I am thinking about another man in another era. He was also known as a man known for his nonviolent acts of resistance. In fact his acts of nonviolent resistance were all about revealing the Kingdom of God to one and all. OK, he did get angry that time and turned over the tables, but nobody got hurt as far as we know. Mostly he Continue reading

Choose wisely, together

These are strange days. Each day I encounter news that I could not possibly imagine would ever exist. There is a hashtag called #nottheonion, because ludicrous stories may be satire – or they may be reflective of something real.

Some quotations have worked their way into my consciousness, so I have been praying with them and pondering them.

the-ultimate-measure-of-a-man-is-not-where-he-stands-in-moments-of-comfort-and-convenience-but-where-he-stands-at-times-of-challenge-and-controversyThe first is this one from Dr. Martin Luther King, who we will remember in a national holiday on Monday. I am acutely aware that for many Americans, their own comfort and convenience, their own safety and security, trumps (oh that word) all other things.  At some level we are all guilty of this, aren’t we? Yet, when we get right down to it, especially for people of faith, things like comfort, routine, convenience, and so forth are all expendable. What matters is – as Dr. King noted – where we stand at times of challenge and controversy. And I do believe that we are entering a place of great challenge and controversy.

20171011-trump-cnn-buzzfeed_0For example, at the so-called news conference on Wednesday, the president-elect ignored a CNN reporter’s question, berated the reporter, and then called CNN fake news. Let’s just say that that kind of behavior does not strike me as either presidential, or as behavior that is attuned to the First Amendment. That this moment stands for challenge and controversy is Continue reading